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H.E double hockey sticks.

“My favorite driver is always either the bad guy or the underdog.” -Bo Jackson.

  John Colone has always been in on the joke. In fact, most likely He orchestrated it. Hell, Michigan has not only been the catalyst for many events, and caused some local controversies, but it’s also a place that champions the underdog. Wayward travelers, misfits, survivors, and tourists from all over the world visit this tiny town. There is not only an atmosphere of mischief, but of acceptance. Have crazy colored hair? Welcome.  Physically disabled? Welcome. A massive stroke survivor? Welcome.   All are welcome, and if you are a misfit of society, all the better. This is because, not only is there no discrimination in the town of Hell, they understand survivors. The struggle is real, and many who populate this place, from tourists to “Hellbillies.” get it.  The attitude is refreshing and not often found outside of  the borders of Hell. Imagine a place where you are given a chance to do something different, to be who you are, and to succeed. Well, then maybe you should get a job in town, I just did! Yup. After spending  countless hours putting my efforts into finding  employment the traditional way, at the usual places….. All I had to do was go down the street! Because right around the corner from me, is Hell. Michigan. I considered secretary positions, jobs related to my field of expertise(medical) and technological jobs.  However, I ultimately landed in the place I need to be at this time.  You know the saying “If you build it they will come?” Well, John built a town based on a punchline and over the years Good Morning America has passed through, Netflix, The Travel Channel, and even Sundance.  I suspect all the attention is the result of more than a funny name. Because, just like the charm of a stranger or honey to a bee, Hell has a natural magnetism. An energy that can be better understood if you spend any length of time here. Even more so if you meet the man behind the curtain. If you’d like to check it out more  visit http://www.gotohellmi.com  or drop by in person and say Hello. Perhaps, I’ll see you there!

Dear Kelsey

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.” -Mother Teresa.

There is a secret to my success besides persistence, perseverance, and  an excellent support system.  Although those are certainly  the main ingredients, there’s a secret one. And here it is. You need to learn how to rebuke! According to its definition, rebuke means; To express sharp disapproval or criticism of(someone) because of their behavior or actions.  Who should you rebuke? Well, everyone, or anyone that sets themselves against your forward movement in life. The biggest offenders are….*drumroll please* doctors.  I don’t condone avoiding them, but I do condone not letting them have the final word. When  you receive a bad report, it is not the final report.  Don’t you dare let fear creep in and limit your life according to what they say. If I or my family put an ounce of belief into the doctor’s report, I’d be a total vegetable being pushed around in a chair, suffer from severe fatigue, not recall my Parents faces, and so on.  These are just a few of the things that were “supposed,” to happen according to the doctor’s report. Guess what? NONE of them did!    Don’t just sit back and roll with a negative diagnosis. That storyline doesn’t have to be part of your book. We all have choices. Therefore, choose to be happy over sad, peace over drama and gossip, calm over frantic, and finally choose life over  a report of death. It is death to accept  a negative report as fact.  While it’s true the sky is blue, it’s actually sunlight being filtered through  millions of water droplets that are hanging in the air. You too can be a filter through which only  love, health, and happiness  come out on  the other side. You just have to catch all  that junk that tries to settle within you and bring you down.    Cheers to no fear!

The Plight of Angels

“All God’s angels come to us disguised.”  – James Russell Lowell

Love may not be tangible, but the objects that result from it are. I can look around me and see gifts from each person that loves me. They adorn my walls, my desk space, and take up residence in my record cabinet! Each object is a token of love from an irreplaceable human. However, not all of these seemingly  ordinary people  are human, some  of them are angels. Indeed  one of these creatures was actually my nurse while I was sedated in  the ICU. She prayed over me, sang the same songs, and today we share the same understanding.  Much like a palindrome, where there are words hidden within, and it’s understood in both directions, an invisible  river  of a s shared experience runs between us that ties us together. We knew nothing of each other before She  walked into my room, but that didn’t matter to Her, nonetheless She was going to put 200% of Herself into caring for me. Even now, I don’t believe I fully grasp the gravity of my situation in 2012. I have since learned that I was discovered on the floor gasping for breath in agony(a sign of a brain in the process of dying) and needed to be resuscitated. This was the state  from which a team of humans(and  many angels) were tasked  with bringing me back from. I was on the brink of death, and they weren’t going to let me completely fall! During the time that I spent in a coma, I wish I could  recall something, anything. However,  that time instead is one big blank in the  continuum of my timeline. While I lay unaware of my surroundings, the people that were there to observe felt the pain for me. Therefore,   they experienced it just as much(if not more) then I did!    Because of this lapse in consciousness, I’m discovering my own story  as if it is happening for the first time. It’s a rather weird  thing to have had such an earth shattering experience, but not to recall it.  As many of the details that I’ve missed, I certainly have not failed to recognize the key players in my  tale. Although, my story nearly ended in  total tragedy, now that I’m awake(and alive) to take over the narrative you can bet I’ll have a happy ending. Life is what you make of it!

-XOXO BLEU

Faith louder than Fear

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”- Plato.

In these uncertain times it’s easy to fall prey to fear and worry. In fact during any uncertain time in our lives, it’s easy to fall into the worry trap. However, as with everything  we have a choice. It is a choice between  avenues of thought. Do we focus on fear or walk in faith? Do we choose to believe that the present moment informs us of what our future will be? Indeed, in trying times the best advice my family(and I indirectly)  ever received came from a strong woman who ran a house that sheltered those in need during a storm.(The Danielle House).   It was simply… “ Look no further than the tip of your nose.” Because after all looking too far ahead into the future  can be perilous. As most know, nothing lasts forever. That includes the bad times as well as the good. Which is why we should try to savor  the good times and not dwell in the bad. I’m often met with wonder from others as  to how I remain strong. The answer to that is, that I make a choice daily to walk in faith and not dwell in the negatives. Not only is Life a gift, but my life  has been double gifted! Therefore, I choose to use my time wisely and encourage others. For a time, I was able to survive each day by mentally holding back the walls that threatened to cave in on me. I did this by ignoring  my present reality(a paralyzed left side, living in a  different state, and having lost nearly everything) and choosing to look at  a brighter future. Instead of a deadened left side, I saw a body that was on the mend. Instead of looking at an empty bank account, I chose to focus on saving my money. Instead of being upset over the losses I tried to see the gains in them. To be honest, this took many years, lots of self improvement books, and finding the right support. I have not only been blessed with a second chance at life, but also the  “loss,” of things led to large swathes of time that I could now fill nurturing my well being. Where once I worked sixty hour weeks in a bustling city, I now had stretches of empty time in a quiet little town to fill with reading self improvement books. Or  exercising, or volunteering, or simply  enjoying a lazy afternoon on  a deck swing.  Rather then fill my days with seemingly mundane tasks in exchange for sums of money, I was  investing in myself and filling up on the things that would last a life time.  With each finished book, added dollar to my account, debt paid off, and   strength from physical exercise I was elated. I had discovered something profound AND helpful!  Even when we are faced with daunting adversity we can prevail.

Dear Reader.

You’ll never know who you are unless you shed who you pretend to be.”
― Vironika Tugaleva.

You are more than a conqueror. You are above and not below. You are victorious. You are strong. You are loved. You have love. You have peace. But most of all  there is only one of you! Perhaps no one has told you these things before, but they should have! Too long we have been living from the wrong identity. Identities that have persuaded us that we aren’t enough or we don’t have enough. Because of this we often make the wrong decisions based on a feeling(and out of a place) of lack. However, when we have confidence in, and know our true identities, all our decisions then flow from that place instead. Our  choices all become filtered through the truth rather than a lie. This entire message and concept are exciting to me because it will revolutionize your life. Going into the next decade, if you live from the place of your trueidentity  you’ll experience triumph after triumph. No longer will you be a slave to those old ideas of self. Therefore, not only do you have to make a conscious choice to withdraw from those old ways, but to recognize the truth. Which is, as I’ve said above, the opposite of everything that has held you  down or led to bad decisions.  If you believe you are lacking in some area, you’ll usually strive to get it in some way. Not knowing(or realizing) that you already have it!  If you truly employ this modus operandi, the world around you will change. No longer will you be bending to fit the world, but suddenly it will bend to fit YOU.   Going forward, try to remember that no one can make you feel anything but what you CHOOSE. So, please in every situation choose life.

Happy  New Year!

Dear Uppity “Christians.”

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

-Mattthew 7:5

I’m no theologian, but I am an excellent observer.

The last time I checked,  Jesus  didn’t win people over by  criticising, converting, or shaming them. In fact, He did it by being the human embodiment of radical love! I cringe every time I hear a Pastor proclaim He(or She) is going to reach the world outside of the church walls. Because, more often than not they don’t. The funny thing is, a highly criticised person like Kanye West is more effective then the modern church. Today’s culture doesn’t hate Christianity. What they hate are holier than thou people telling them how to be a  good person without actually being an example of one.  If you want to change the world  go  out  into your community and be an example of who God is, rather then just talking about him and telling people what’s wrong with them. Prior to the stroke, I never went to church,  didn’t actively try to fulfill  a set of rules to be  a good person, and was more concerned with living my life. However, if you’re a legalistic externalist Christian  you’d know this  behavior would disqualify me from going to heaven. Right?  BUT IT DOESN’T!    I can confidently say that I’ve had a firsthand encounter with God and He saved my life even when I was unconscious and didn’t know my life needed saving. I don’t call myself a Christian, an Atheist, or even a good person. I call myself a student. Because,  I’m still learning, you’re still learning, we all are. Therefore, don’t assume to  be the master and tell people what to do with their lives. Just show them love. Why?  BECAUSE LOVE ALWAYS WINS!

Lets Get Real.

When you stop living your life based on what others think of you, real life begins.”
-unknown.

For most of us were thankful that our private thoughts  remain unknown by most of the people around us. But what if they weren’t? Would you be embarrassed,  shamed, or uneasy?  Most likely  it’s a mix of all three. Therefore I’m sure you’re thankful that no one can read your mind! However, what happens when(and if) you meet someone that can see right through you? It’s uncomfortable to say the least. Well, more recently  that very thing happened to me. But you know what? After the initial horror it was quickly followed by a mixture of relief and a feeling of  refreshment. That’s certainly  due to the fact that I needed to be called out! I think you probably do too. How are we to live an authentic life(that is the trending hashtag is it not) if we can’t be real with one another or even ourselves? The problem seems to  be with safety. How safe do you  feel with others? How safe do you feel venturing into the void of your own heart? And  finally, in this upside down world, do you feel safe at all?  Not many of us come across people we feel safe  with. If you’re  blessed you will find  a person that has your best interest in mind. Today, for the first time ever I met one of  those people. It was scary! It was refreshing! Last but not least I am blessed for it!   When you get called out personally, see this as a chance to grow. If  you’re not  uncomfortable  you are not growing. So grit your teeth, clench your eyes, or stay silent when you want to scream, and get uncomfortable. Somewhere in your loss of comfort  you’ll find the kind of gains that will make you a better person.

At the crossroads of strength and determination.

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, “plans to  prosper you  and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.

When someone is empowered they will use their power to do what they feel they are able to do. Knowing that you can direct your intentions to choose the reality you want to experience is a game changer. However,  as we know life does not follow a straight and orderly(much less expected) path. So, what do you do when a traumatic event turns your life upside-down? Well, you can stew in misery for awhile feeling stuck in your circumstances-OR- you can choose to overcome them. This becomes possible when you are told that you can overcome them! Indeed, for a time I felt powerless as if I was aimlessly drifting along on the waves of time. But then someone much more enlightened than I, told me  that I had the power to break free from such circumstances. Lately I have been meditating on these truths. With each passing day that I  do,  it becomes clearer and clearer that I have  an exciting future. No longer am I fearful that  I will have a life lived inside a small box, but rather I can see the possibilities. And. Let.Me.Tell.You. It is exciting! The massive stroke did not kill me, it did not steal my humor, lessen my intelligence, or revoke my creativity. In fact, in the oddest(and sometimes worst) way possible   this major setback has become my setup. Therefore,    I have learned that  I am an overcomer. And  just in case you’ve been misinformed…  SO. ARE.  YOU.

Your Credit Score has decreased by one point.

Life is full of little setbacks, but thankfully there are just as many gains. In 2012  I suffered one major setback. Ever since, through one gain at a time, I’ve been chipping away  at what was a huge block in the road. By making the decision to carry on in the face of adversity, and achieving little gains, that block is turning into a pebble. When I first woke up in the hospital I perceived this giant roadblock to be immovable. There was a giant  road sign next to it that read “YOUR LIFE ENDS HERE.”   -But- I didn’t take into account one important factor. And that factor was, as  any physics professor could tell you…. An object of large size is easier to move with a force  that’s strong  enough to oppose it. In other words,  I alone was not strong enough to face the ramifications of the stroke. However, when I  had the right group of supportive individuals with me I could  better  recover. After the  fog of confusion and agitation lifted, I was better  able to understand my situation. At first, I felt that my life circumstances were insurmountable, but as I continue forward(with a strong  support system) I’m discovering that the gains become larger and they happen fairly quickly. Of course, I would  LOVE everything to go back to the way it was prior to the stroke  in a days time. But,  Rome wasn’t built in a day was it? To  cultivate a remarkable life you have to go about it in extraordinary ways. There is no shortcut to the finish line.  In the end, the best views come after the hardest climb.

Cheers,

Leah

 

The Formula.

“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” – Gerard Way.

I’ve been asked on many occasions, how I’ve dealt with a landslide of changes and perceived losses  yet continued to move forward. That’s just it, perception. All of the things that were uncontrollable for me, could happen to anyone, but then again most people don’t have massive strokes in their twenties. As rare as such an event is(thankfully) it’s just as rare to survive it. Besides the initial question of how such a thing could happen, the question became what to do when it does. I have been  attempting to answer that question for the last five years. At first  it was just a matter of survival. While I don’t recall my time in  intensive care my family certainly does. They and the medical team were fighting for me at the time. However, now that I’m able it’s my turn to enlist in the battle for myself. As I have steadily made physical and cognitive gains, many people are impressed. However, what they don’t fully realize is that anyone can achieve what I have, including them. There’s a formula.  Once I became more fully  aware of what had happened to me I became deeply depressed. Except at some point I knew that I couldn’t let that depression be a road block in my recovery. After all, I was in the fight of my life! When push came to shove, I wasn’t going to let the stroke continue to push me down. Certainly it did while I was still in the hospital. But now,  I felt an obligation to getting my life back.  It’s funny that after you’ve been railroaded, a great determination is built up in you as a result. I simply used  this determination to kick some proverbial butt. Along the way I have set some lofty goals for myself. Even if I fail, I will have failed  above other people because I’ve set the bar so high. In the last 1,825 days following my stroke I’ve met and had the pleasure of working with some of the most amazing individuals. Besides, the stroke really showing me what I’m made of, it has unveiled a different side of life. The side we often don’t notice and the places we oft ignore. It is in these places I have found beauty, love, friendship, and thankfulness. A lot of the formula boils down to gratitude and acceptance.

 

Practice gratefulness!

 

 

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